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STI0801 Meshing

STI0801 Meshing

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Published by: K on Dec 07, 2013
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March 2, 2008
Memo Number
Sheldon Imaoka
 ANSYS Revision
Sheldon’s ANSYS.NET Tips and Tricks: Meshing in Workbench
1. Introduction:
Mechanical users have long enjoyed access to a variety of powerful meshing tools inside of ANSYS to generate high-quality shell, tetrahedral, and swept meshes. During the past several years, meshing in ANSYS Workbench Simulation has not only grown to encompass traditional meshing algorithms in ANSYS but has also developed many features requested by ANSYS users as well as integrated meshing technologies from ANSYS CFX and ANSYS ICEM CFD. ANSYS Workbench Simulation 11.0 (a.k.a. ANSYS Workbench Meshing 11.0) offers users a wealth of meshing capabilities
, including the following:
Physics-based meshing & element shape checking
Higher degree of mesh sizing controls
Patch-independent surface and volume meshing
Additional controls for sweep meshing of solid-shell elements This memo hopes to cover some meshing topics pertinent for mechanical users, although the user should keep in mind that Workbench Simulation offers various meshing tools for CFD, Electromagnetic, and Explicit Dynamics users as well.
2. Physics-based Meshing Preferences & Element Shape Checking:
ANSYS users are familiar with the fact that meshing in ANSYS requires that the user select the appropriate element type first, and the meshing algorithms and conservative shape checking criteria are typically independent of the physics of the problem. On the other hand, ANSYS Workbench Simulation provides users with the ability to set default global meshing options under the Details view of the “Mesh” branch that is dependent on the analysis physics. ANSYS Workbench can generate meshes for structural, thermal, electromagnetics, explicit dynamics, or CFD analyses, but the meshing considerations vary for each. For example, lower-order elements with a finer mesh density tend to be used in CFD whereas higher-order elements with a coarser mesh density may be preferred in structural analyses. For each physics, different criteria are used for element shape checking in order to ensure that the elements provide accurate results for that particular analysis.
 For mechanical users, “Standard” and “Aggressive” shape checking are also available: “Standard” shape checking is suitable for linear analyses, but “Aggressive” shape checking provides more conservative element shape-checking criteria to account for possible distortion of the elements during nonlinear analyses.
 For a more comprehensive discussion on meshing options in ANSYS Workbench, refer to “ANSYS Workbench Help > Meshing Help” documentation
 See ANSYS Workbench Help: “Meshing Help | Meshing Capabilities in Workbench | Mesh Controls | Global Mesh Controls”
3. Higher Degree of Mesh Sizing Controls:
Users will find that typical mesh sizing controls are available in ANSYS Workbench Simulation under the “Mesh” branch – specification of element size on vertices, edges, faces, or bodies (parts)
 with number of divisions and mesh biasing available on edges. Two features that may be new to ANSYS users are “Sphere of Influence” and “Contact Sizing.” Under a surface or body mesh sizing branch, instead of specifying a uniform mesh density for the entire geometric entity, a user can use a defined Coordinate System and a radius to designate a ‘sphere’ where elements will have a certain size. This is helpful in specifying a smaller mesh density without requiring existing geometry to identify that region, as shown in the example of contact of gear teeth below: Contact regions in Workbench Simulation are associated with the solid model geometry, so remeshing does not require a user to regenerate contact elements. Also, “Contact Sizing” allows users to define a more uniform, finer mesh density in a contact region to provide a better distribution of contact pressure. A user can drag-and-drop a contact region from the “Connections” branch to the “Mesh” branch and specify an element size – only the actual areas which are in initial contact will have that finer mesh. The figures below illustrate this behavior – note that the entire upper surface (highlighted in blue) is associated with the contact region, but the resulting mesh (a Section Plane shown on the right) reveals that the finer mesh is concentrated only in the contact region.
 A convenient feature is that the mesh size will be shown as a circle next to the cursor in the Graphics Window.
4. Meshing & Defeaturing:
Unlike the mesher in ANSYS that meshes all surfaces, including any sliver areas present in the model, the default volume mesher in Workbench Simulation automatically includes defeaturing. The user can control the percentage of defeaturing by specifying the
 Note in image on the left, a very small area exists on the right side. Instead of meshing this small sliver (which would generate more nodes and elements), this surface was internally ignored, resulting in the mesh shown on right. This provides a much more robust, efficient meshing algorithm for users requiring little clean-up of CAD geometry. While automatic defeaturing is helpful, this built-in defeaturing is not meant to compensate for larger surfaces that the user wants to ignore. Instead, either “Virtual Topology” or the “Patch-Independent Mesher” can be used for this purpose. A “Virtual Topology” branch can be inserted from the “Model” branch. Once added, “virtual cells” can be defined, which effectively merges surfaces and edges for meshing and preprocessing purposes
. Although the functionality is similar to ‘concatenation’ for mapped meshing in ANSYS (
 commands), virtual cells are used for tetrahedral meshing in ANSYS Workbench Simulation, thus giving the user greater flexibility. Note in the figure below that there is a highlighted strip of surface – with virtual topology, the strip can be merged with surrounding surfaces, allowing the mesher to ignore this internal geometry.
 For details, see the following ANSYS Workbench Help section: “Simulation Help | Simulation Basics | Customizing Simulation | Variables”
 Note that edges internal to surfaces merged as a virtual cell are removed, so loads and boundary conditions must be applied to the virtual cell itself, not to its constituent surfaces.

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